The search for the location of the main site for the new High Speed Rail College was launched today (7 March) by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock. The new college will work with a network of employers, other educational institutions and providers to boost railway and engineering skills development across the UK.
Plans for the college were originally announced earlier this year (2014), generating significant interest from across the country. The government now wants to gather information from local areas on where the main site for the new college will be best located.
Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:
HS2 is the biggest infrastructure project that this government is delivering, and presents a major opportunity for economic growth. We are determined to meet this challenge by developing the facilities that will support the highly skilled workforce of the future - locally trained in the state of the art engineering technology and techniques needed for high speed rail and other future infrastructure projects across the country.
Through our industrial strategy we are working to deliver the skills employers need. Strong links with employers in the rail industry supply chain will be a key feature of the new elite college. They will have a central leadership role in the college and play a key role in supporting delivery. The new college will also form strong partnerships with other providers through a ‘hub and spoke’ model which will supply the skills needed for HS2, and the wider rail industry, and provide strong progression routes for learners.
Selecting a site for the new college will be the first important step in its creation, and I am asking those parties interested in locating the college in their area to respond to the consultation.
Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said:
The reaction to the High Speed Rail College has been overwhelmingly positive and has helped to drive home the fact that HS2 is about far more than just a railway line. We need a new north-south railway first and foremost to address the capacity crisis we face on our railways, but it will also bring jobs, growth and regeneration to towns and cities across Britain.
HS2 is a once in a generation chance to transform our country and it is vital we maximise every opportunity it presents. I look forward to seeing the strong bids that will undoubtedly come forward from across the country to be the home of the college.
This forms part of the government’s work with HS2 Ltd to ensure the new north-south railway delivers a tangible skills legacy that will serve the UK for the next century and continue the proud tradition the UK has for worldwide demand for its engineering expertise. It is expected that HS2 will create up to 2,000 apprentices during the lifetime of construction. Once open, it is predicted that HS2 will underpin the delivery of 400,000 jobs.
The college will have strong links to the rail industry as well as construction and engineering firms, ensuring that students will have the right skills employers are looking for to deliver big infrastructure projects such as HS2.
The college will provide the specialist training and qualifications needed for high speed rail and other future infrastructure projects across the country. It will offer the necessary technical training to make HS2 a success and ensure that it can be built by British workers with expertise in rail engineering, environmental skills and construction.
Responses to the consultation will be assessed against 7 criteria:
- links to employers delivering to the rail industry
- links with other providers
- ease of access for students
- how far it supports the HS2 objective to rebalance the economy
- size and availability of a suitable site
- affordability and value for money
- support of partner bodies
Notes for editors
The consultation document can be found at High speed rail college: possible location.
The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:
- to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
- to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
- to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
- to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe
Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.